Don’t leave immigrants hanging


Ronel Ghidey

art by Erin Barchet
[heading size=”14″]Scholarship program hurts undocumented Missouri residents[/heading] As of last year, nearly 1.7 million immigrants, legal and illegal, came into the United States, making their total population nearly 42.1 million. After a recent increase in the population of American immigrants, these travelers now constitute more than 13 percent of the U.S. population. This increase makes U.S. citizens not only question the status of all immigrants, but also takes away some of the opportunities that gave them a reason to come to this country. Missouri is no exception to that.
Last August, the Senate overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and passed SB224, which requires all students that receive any reimbursements from the A+ Scholarship program to be United States citizens. The repercussions of this law are severe.
Before this bill was passed, students had to have at least a 95 percent attendance record throughout their high school career, graduate with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, maintain a good public record and avoid the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol to be eligible for the program. They also had to do 50 hours of unpaid tutoring, and enter into a written agreement with their school prior to graduation. But starting this year, students also have to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. This new law indicates that those in high school who may have been eligible last year, who have obtained the grades, done the extracurriculars needed and have looked forward to furthering their education through the aid of the A+ Scholarship program, must pay international rates.
These rates are a significant increase in cost that most people who choose to use the A+ Scholarship program can’t afford. Students who have applied themselves throughout high school and were once promised an affordable education now face a financial obstacle many may not be able to overcome.
The majority of people the bill effects are the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students. DACA students are children brought to the United States by undocumented parents and have legal permission to stay in the country under the immigration policy.
On KY3, a news outlet in the Springfield area, Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick said this bill aims to prevent money from the already financially strapped A+ Scholarship program from going to immigrants living in the state illegally.
This isn’t fair to the DACA students, who will be affected by this the most. These are children taken from their home country by their parents who entered in the country undocumented and had no say in the matter. How is it fair for them to be left with one less option on how to get the education their parents dreamed for them to attain?
But that isn’t even the worst part. This bill also applies to those who are already in the A+ program. So for the hundreds of students across the state who are in the middle of attaining their degrees and are meeting the requirements to maintain their scholarship are having their scholarships revoked while they’re in college and now have to pay the international fees. Take Moberly Area Community College (MACC), for example.
According to MACC’s website, the district resident’s fee is roughly $102 per credit hour, which excludes any type of scholarship one could obtain from the state of government. For international students, the cost is $217 per credit hour, making these students who have paid the resident’s fee pay more than double per credit hour.
Also, this law means that international students also cannot obtain any type of state or federal aid, only private grants and scholarships.
This shows that some students went from attending college for free to having to pay double the amount their neighbor may pay because of uncontrollable circumstances.
It’s unfair that people are denied the opportunity to receive an affordable education or have their affordable education taken away from them because of their background.
These students shouldn’t have to settle because of the lack of funds for a program. People come to this country looking for a better life and by taking away their option to get an affordable education gets in the way of that.
Oppose it by protesting against decisions. Our government is one for the people, so the government should change for the people.
Do you believe undocumented immigrants should receive benefits from the A+ scholarship program?